Healthy Living

How to Make Lasting Lifestyle Changes

A New Year is a fresh start. This is true at the start of any year, but it’s especially true this year as we think about how our lives have been affected by the pandemic. Many people gained weight, reduced activity and saw their stress and anxiety levels climb. Even though the country’s experiencing another surge, January 2022 is an opportunity to take back control.

This time of year, people often resolve to eat healthier, be more active, reduce stress, or even improve sleep. These are all great lifestyle changes that can help you improve your overall health. Take care of your body now and you may be able to prevent disease later.

As a first step, set your intention. Making lifestyle changes can’t be for anyone else – it has to come from within. Here are some additional tips to be successful:

• Set a goal – Make sure your goal is specific, short term and just enough of a challenge that it feels achievable. If your goal is too far-reaching it might seem unattainable, leading to feelings of frustration or failure.

• Schedule it – Be thoughtful about when you can work toward your goal. For example, with exercise, you can plan it just like any other commitment. Schedule it on your calendar and make sure you keep the dates.

• Anticipate triggers or high-risk situations – Part of being successful is thinking in advance about ways you can reduce your exposure to triggers or change the way you respond to situations. For example, if you always eat a giant bucket of buttered popcorn when seeing a movie, plan and brainstorm ways to prevent that outcome. It might mean eating dinner before the movie or bringing a healthy snack.

• Track and journal your progress – Whether it’s tracking your activity or journaling what you eat, you need to have a way to measure your progress. There are studies that show that those who record what they eat end up losing twice the amount of weight as those who don’t. It’s a huge part of staying committed over the long haul.

• Lean on your support system – It’s hard to make lasting changes alone. Know who you can count on to help you in making – and sticking with – changes. Whether it’s a family member, friend, coworker or someone else, it needs to be someone who can motivate you to keep going.

• Celebrate small milestones – Giving yourself a small reward for reaching a milestone is important. It might be something small like treating yourself to a manicure or buying a new pair of gym shoes. Only reward yourself if you achieve your goal.

Motivation is critical to maintaining lifestyle changes, but it’s also one of the biggest hurdles people face. While it’s normal for motivation to ebb and flow over time, it’s important to remain committed to your new lifestyle. This is your new way of life and that takes dedication, commitment and consistency.

That’s where Jumpstart Your Health can be a huge help. It’s a year-long lifestyle program geared toward helping participants lose weight, become more active and change their behaviors. Our program is based on a Diabetes Prevention Program research study that showed lifestyle changes are more effective than medication for high-risk patients.

There are 22 sessions over the year and each class emphasizes food and nutrition, physical activity or behavior modification. Participants also benefit from the support they receive from fellow participants. The program is currently virtual but will return to an in-person setting.

The program fee is $249 for the year and anyone over the age of 25 who is overweight can participate.

To learn more about Jumpstart Your Health, visit us online, call 331-221-0429 or e-mail jumpstart@eehealth.org.